Friday, March 21, 2014

Wrasslin'!

I don't think that many people would look at me and say, "That girl loves herself some professional wrestling."

Aside from the fact that I show up to work like this every day. Dress for the job you want, folks.
I haven't seriously kept up with wrestling lately, but ask me about the geopolitical landscape and personal backstabbing of late 80s, early 90s wrestling. Do it. What follows will be the most informative 7 hours of your life. I was obsessed as a tween and early teen. My dream job was to become an announcer for the WWF (which WWE will always be in my mind because fuck those pandas).



I recently read The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling by David Shoemaker. In my effort to follow my unofficial New Year's Resolution by reading more nonfiction, I read a nonfiction book about a fictional sport.


However, the one major piece of information I took away from this book is that even though the matches are scripted, the men and women involved in professional wrestling are real athletes. I knew that to some extent before reading this book, but Shoemaker spends enough time describing the physical trials and tribulations of wrestlers for there to be no doubt in my mind that their athleticism is very real.

I learned a lot from this book, like the fact that Macho Man was a real life crazy bastard or that Yokozuna was Samoan and not Japanese. I learned a lot about wrestling before the days of Vince McMahon, including the incredibly tragic saga of the Von Erich clan. In fact, I learned all about the most tragic wrestlers in the history of wrestling because this is a book about dead wrestlers.

This was a book all about the sometimes tragic reality of wrestling behind all the scripts and drama. Now, some of the drama was real. Jake "The Snake" Roberts really did have an issue with Macho Man because Macho Man didn't invite him to his bachelor party before he married Miss Elizabeth.

I want to renew my vows like this.
Many of wrestling's injuries were real. To me, the most tragic story is that of Owen Hart, who fell to his death during a live Pay Per View event in 1999. Because of the bombast of wrestling, it took folks more than a little bit of time to realize his fall wasn't part of his act. I had stopped watching wrestling by this time, but I had had a huge crush on Owen Hart when I was 14.

"You're the only girl for me, Carey."
Overall, I liked this book. Parts of it were a lot of fun, despite the fact that it was about dead wrestlers. My only problem with it was that I felt that by not including more information about living wrestlers, there were gaps in the dead wrestlers' stories. For example, I would have liked to know more about the relationship between Owen and Bret Hart. I would have liked to know more about how the dead wrestlers fit in with all the ones who are still alive. Shoemaker doesn't write about his subjects in the vacuum of their own lives, but the article style of his writing prevents the book from feeling like a cohesive whole.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is or was a fan of wrestling. Even if you aren't keeping up with it today, the nostalgia value of this book in regard to wrestling eras of yore is pretty epic.

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